Many years ago, it used to be that if you had a cell phone that had an email program included, you could configure using IMAP and SMTP to allow you to check email and send email…. just like how a desktop email program worked.
This is still the case, of course. However, as far back as 1996, Microsoft introduced the first version of “ActiveSync”, a protocol designed to allow mobile devices supporting it to synchronize email, calendars, tasks, and contacts with Microsoft’s Exchange server. ActiveSync has evolved over time, getting faster, offering support for use in every modern mobile device. While ActiveSync was designed to work with the Exchange server, these days it also works with other non-Exchange services that can talk the “ActiveSync language,” e.g. LuxSci through its Mobile Sync service.
In general, ActiveSync is much better than using IMAP and SMTP, though there are a few small corner cases where IMAP may be better for you. Below, we shall compare them from an end-user perspective … trying to shed some light on “which is better” from a practical point of view.
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